By a convincing margin, Toronto city council voted to support mayor David Miller and rebuff the high-profile advances of a London-based trucking company intent on seeking a $100-million dollar garbage contract.
ECL Carriers had originally submitted the lowest-priced bid to secure a multi-year agreement with the city, but was disqualified because the bid violated provincial regulations concerning transportation of waste.
Instead, city staff recommended council approve a deal with another hauler whose bid was higher but complied with provincial regulations.
Council opted to follow staff’s recommendations by a 39-3 margin. Only councillors Mark Grimes, Cliff Jenkins and Michael Walker voted against the deal.
The debate commenced with a fiery speech by the mayor. Raising his voice at times, Miller condemned the high-pressure tactics of lobbyists for ECL Carriers.
“They’re running radio ads to persuade you how to vote,” Miller said. “That is an outrage.”
Depending on the outcome of the vote, Miller warned council that the impartiality of the city’s bidding system was at stake.
“You might be the deciding vote on whether the city’s tendering process has integrity,” he said. “Let’s not put aside our integrity!”
Adrian Heaps, the councillor from Scarborough Southwest, made reference to the glossy pamphlets ECL representatives had prepared in advance of the vote (taking place on the second day of the monthly council meeting).
“If they had taken half the care in the bidding process that they did in creating this document, we wouldn’t be in this mess,” he said.
Grimes, the representative for Etobicoke-Lakeshore, made a motion to re-opening the bidding process. He said ECL was not provided with an opportunity to modify its bid.
“This was a cloudy bid and it should go back,” Grimes said.
Earlier, city staff warned of the threat of a potential lawsuit from winning bidder Verspeeten Cartage if council rejected its bid.
Under questioning from Toronto-Danforth councillor Paula Fletcher, staff admitted the city had never re-opened a tendering to allow an applicant to modify its bid.
Representatives of ECL Carriers were unavailable for comment.